By Jake Arians
I’ll start by saying that I really like the player, person, and leader that Deshaun Watson is. I believe he is definitely the quarterback the Houston Texans need long-term and deserves a contract that reflects these attributes. That being said, I’ve seen him discussed as a potential MVP candidate for the 2020 season. I’m going to tell you why this shouldn’t be the case.
We have all seen the Superman and Michael Jordan-esque plays that Watson has made—and frequently makes. There is no denying his phenomenal big-play ability and his “it” factor. But to be an MVP candidate he has to be much more consistent at the routine plays. This year more than ever, he will have to learn to take what the defense gives him.
That is the biggest development I would like to see from him in 2020. He will need to be more reliable from within the pocket and deviate less from the play design. Taking the check down, making the easy throw to the open man when it’s there… without DeAndre Hopkins as his safety blanket, he will have to read the defense better and be able to spread the ball around more. Simply put, he must take what the defense gives him.
This is easier said than done. He and Hopkins had serious chemistry and he would force the ball to Hopkins because of it. And it worked for the most part, but it actually limited his growth as a quarterback. Watson no longer has any wide receiver left on the roster with that ability. Will Fuller is a solid No. 2, but his health is a real concern. He was also really good as a “Robin” but now he has to be “Batman” and I’m not convinced he can handle that role.
His other weapons have their issues, too. Brandon Cooks has injury concerns. He can be dynamic, but he is also more of a true No. 2 than the guy. Randall Cobb and Kenny Stills are also solid veterans, but as my boy Jaime Eisner put it on the TDN Fantasy Podcast, two good players don’t equal one great player. David Johnson can be as good as any running back Watson has ever played with—especially in the passing game—but he definitely has his fair share of health issues as well. You can’t lose a guy like Hopkins and be better with the additions they made. Period.
I love Watson’s ability to move the pocket and run when needed, but that element has become too big of a part of his game. He takes too many hits when he runs and extends plays. There is a fine line of when to do that and when to move on to the next play without taking that hit. Learning where that line is and making plays without taking hits is paramount to his growth. Watson’s O-line is better than it’s been in the past—it at least is a more cohesive unit for sure. This will help his progression from inside the pocket, if he allows it to.
While Hopkins being gone isn’t Watson’s fault, he will have to adjust his game to compensate for the loss. The team will have to win 11-ish games, and more than likely the division, for Watson to make a run at MVP. This team isn’t built to do that, in my opinion. The defense isn’t good enough to give him the ability to play complementary football. I feel they will be behind in the second half in a lot of games, therefore putting a ton of pressure on Watson to make plays from behind—mistakes are bound to happen.
Watson has missed too many easy throws in the past, specifically on designed plays from the pocket. Watson will need to progress as an overall quarterback to have any chance to win the MVP this season. He will need to limit the mistakes and take fewer hits. He will also need to be better from the pocket, read what the defense is doing, and be more consistent in his mechanics with the “Superman” plays we are used to sprinkled in to have any chance to win games, not to mention being included in the MVP conversation.
Watson has been elite at times, but not consistently elite. He needs to progress in all the aforementioned areas to become consistently elite. Can he? I hope he proves me wrong! To reiterate, I love the player, person, and leader, but he still has a lot to prove before he is truly a true MVP candidate.
- Dec 01, 2022
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